For over five decades, Marilyn (b. Marilyn Keith, 10 November 1929, New York City, New York, USA) and Alan Bergman (b. 11 September 1925, New York City, New York, USA) have been among the leading lyricists of songs for Hollywood films. Among the husband-and-wife partnership’s earliest work for the screen was the theme for ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ (1967), co-written with Quincy Jones and sung by Ray Charles. The following year the Bergmans began one of their most important collaborations with a soundtrack composer when they wrote the Oscar-winning ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’ with Michel Legrand for The Thomas Crown Affair. Sung by Noel Harrison, it was an international hit in 1969. The Bergman-Legrand team were also responsible for ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?’, which was featured in the 1969 movie The Happy Ending, ‘How Do You Keep The Music Playing’ for Best Friends (1982) and ‘The Way He Makes Me Feel’ for the Barbra Streisand film Yentl (1983). The trio won an Oscar for their original song score for the latter film. Streisand was the first to feature what is perhaps the Bergmans’ most famous song (and another Oscar-winner), ‘The Way We Were’, in the 1973 film of the same name. The music for this yearning ballad was composed by Marvin Hamlisch and given an epic soul-tinged treatment by Gladys Knight. The same team wrote ‘The Last Time I Felt Like This’ for Same Time, Next Year (1978) and ‘The Girl Who Used To Be Me’ for Shirley Valentine (1990). Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s other collaborators have included Billy Goldenberg, with whom they worked on the television movie Queen Of The Stardust Ballroom, and its subsequent stage adaptation, Ballroom (1978), Dave Grusin (‘It Might Be You’ for Tootsie in 1982), Henry Mancini (‘Little Boys’ for The Man Who Loved Women in 1983) and James Newton Howard, who provided the melody in 1991 for ‘Places That Belong To You’, performed by Barbra Streisand in Prince Of Tides. Streisand herself co-wrote ‘Two People’, the theme from Nuts, with the Bergmans. The couple have also provided themes for US television programmes such as Alice (1976), Powers That Be (1990), and One Hour (1991), where they again worked with Hamlisch. With a talent precisely tailored to providing cinema theme songs, among the few lyrics written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the recording studio was ‘I Believe In Love’, which became a minor hit for Kenny Loggins in 1977. In 1991, Alan Bergman, with singer Sandy Stewart, presented selections from the Bergman catalogue at the Russian Tea Room in New York, and in the following year he took over as the new president of the Academy Foundation, the educational and cultural arm of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Among the Bergmans’ honours are Oscars and Grammys for the songs ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’ and ‘The Way We Were’ and Emmys for Sybil and Queen Of The Stardust Ballroom. The couple were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1979, and in 1994 Marilyn was elected President of ASCAP. In the same year, the Bergmans scripted the legendary Barbra Streisand Concert Tour and HBO Special, and in 1999 A Celebration Of The Songs Of Alan And Marilyn Bergman was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York. Among the stars paying tribute were Beatrice Arthur, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Freddy Cole, Cy Coleman and Michel Legrand.